Wednesday, February 8, 2012
BILL MEDLEY - LEAVIN' TOWN
I'm not gonna go into a long story about Bill Medley and his career, with and without The Righteous Brothers. I will tell you about this 45. Probably recorded in 1961-1962 when Bill was singing with The Paramours, which also included his future partner Bobby Hatfield, the record sat in the can for several years until 1965, when Reprise Records released an LP of old Sonny and Cher recordings.
Let me explain. In mid-1965, Sonny and Cher took the world by storm with their recording of "I Got You Babe" on Atco Records. However, prior to that, they recorded several tracks as "Caesar and Cleo" for Warner/Reprise. With "I Got You Babe" screaming up the charts, Reprise dug through the vaults and pulled out "Baby Don't Go", which had already been released as a single in late 1964 (as the first single credited to "Sonny & Cher"), and reissued it in July, 1965. The single became so popular that Reprise decided to issue an LP, despite the fact that the label only had 5 tracks by the duo.
So Reprise did what any record company would do - they rummaged through their vaults and padded the LP with cuts by The Lettermen, The Blendells and Bill Medley. How Reprise ended up with the Medley and Lettermen tracks is still a mystery to me, but Reprise decided to put out a single of "Leavin' Town". It flopped, of course, no doubt partly because Phil Spector had Medley under contract with the Righteous Brothers, and he may have threatened a few stations with a Philles embargo if they played the record.....
Too bad, because this is a killer. Basically, it's a leaner, meaner, more stripped-down version of "Little Latin Lupe Lu" (which "Leavin' Town" may have preceded) with killer handclaps and a great backbeat perfectly complementing one of Medley's most soulful vocals.
You'd probably be better off tracking down the Sonny & Cher "Baby Don't Go" LP on Reprise than to try and get the single cheaply - because you won't.
Bill Medley - Leavin' Town (Reprise 0413) - 1965